#12
FOOTPRINTS IN THE FOG – PART 4
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
In the Kitchen, Fivel Dove paces back and forth nervously. His small shoes squeak on the flagstone tiles. The child’s mind is racing with fear. His mother is still unaccounted for and he can only fear the worst. The young boy has noticed his mother’s sudden change in behavior since the guests have invaded the mansion – and her new behavior frightens him. Even still, he wishes she were beside him in the cold, gloomy Kitchen.
 
Dr. Hugh Black stressfully runs his hands through his thinning white hair. He is clearly overwhelmed by the situation at hand. He watches as Fraulein Olga Bloom and Mr. Miles Meadow-Brook roll a large wooden wine barrel towards the spice rack – which conceals the Secret Passage to the Study.
 
The sideways barrel is quite heavy and Mr. Green steps in to assist the two of them.
 
“Is there anything I can do?” Mrs. White calls out from where she leans against the sink.
 
Mr. Green, who is now shouldering the most weight from the barrel, is struggling greatly. His face is red and dripping with sweat. Fraulein Bloom and Mr. Meadow-Brook turn the barrel upright against the spice rack.
 
“That ought to do the trick.” Mr. Green wipes his brow, “How full is that thing?”
 
“We haven’t tapped it.” Fraulein Bloom says taking the mincer from the edge of the wooden table to the sink. Mrs. White steps aside.
 
“W-Where’s my mother?” Fivel asks, “She went to the Ballroom to see if Mrs. White had cleaned the floors.”
 
There is a fifth gunshot. Fivel embraces Dr. Black closely. Dr. Black sighs and holds the boy tightly as Mrs. White rushes to their sides waiting to help.
 
“We’ll find your mother.” Dr. Black says, kissing the child on the top of the head, “We’re a family. Family always finds each other.”
 
“What if that bullet was meant for her?” Fivel’s eyes quickly well up with tears, “What about the other shots?”
 
Dr. Black hushes the boy, burying his small face into the fabric of his black suit.
 
“Hugh, we can’t just sit here.” Mr. Meadow-Brook says, “There were a lot of gunshots. We need to think logically and leave this place.”
 
“Abandon half the party with a mad shooter?” Dr. Black says, “How could you even say something like that?”
 
“We are in danger here.” Mr. Meadow-Brook says, “This is now a dangerous place. Anyone with common sense would get away from this general area.”
 
“He’s got a point. What if someone busts down the door and starts firing wildly?” Mr. Green comes over to Dr. Black, Fivel, Mr. Meadow-Brook, and Mrs. White.
 
Mr. Green sighs deeply, placing a hand reassuringly on Fivel’s back, “Sealing up the Secret Passage was a good start. But I think we need to barricade all the doors and windows of Blackwell Grange. We need to ring that gong in the Hall and draw all the guests inside.”
 
“Clearly you haven’t thought this through.” Mrs. White crosses her arms, “What if this maniac is already inside?”
 
Fivel looks up at Mrs. White, “Who is doing this?”
 
“Mrs. White, please.” Dr. Black tries to calm down Fivel, “We can’t risk opening these doors to lock up the mansion. We could be locking the shooter inside with us. The person doing this could be any of the people that you want to go out and save.”
 
“We’ll just deal with that as it happens. There is safety in numbers.” Mr. Green says, “But we need to act quickly. The shooter is probably holding back, expecting us to go out and figure things out. We need to take this time and lock this place up tight as a drum.”
 
Dr. Black looks over at Mrs. White and Fraulein Bloom for reassurance.
 
“Let’s do it.” Dr. Black says, breaking a chair over the table.
 
Mr. Green smiles, taking a piece of wood and holding it over the back door, “Do we have nails?”
 
Fraulein Bloom takes a box of nails and a rubber mallet from the drawer near the back door, “Will these do?”
 
“Thank you,” Mr. Green begins to nail the wood in place.
 
“Is there anyone who thinks Miss Peach might have something to do with this?” Mrs. White stares coldly at Dr. Black
 
“Emily?” Mr. Meadow-Brook also looks at Dr. Black, “You don’t trust Emily?”
 
“Now isn’t the time to play whodunit.” Mr. Green says, “Now is the time to stay alive and make certain that we keep as many people safe as we can.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Hall, Professor Peter Plum helps Lord Alfred Gray out of the Library. Lord Gray is bleeding from the shoulder, his knees are weak and wobbly due to the lack of cane support.
 
Presently, Nurse Irene Silver and Yvette come out from where they hide under the staircase near the Ballroom.
 
“Zee gunshots have stopped.” Yvette states, “We were laying flat one zee floors. I thought with all those windows we would be seen.”
 
“Are you two alright?” Nurse Silver dusts herself off
 
“Irene, help him.” Professor Plum motions to Lord Gray’s bleeding shoulder, “The bullet is still inside.”
 
“You were shot!” Yvette gasps
 
Nurse Silver quickly rushes to Lord Gray’s side.
 
“Hardly feel a thing.” Lord Gray grimaces as Nurse Silver begins to pull off his coat, “Ack! Be careful.”
 
“We can’t take the bullet out, it’s too dangerous. It could be against an artery.” Nurse Silver examines the wound, “The bleeding has slowed down. It’s almost stopped on its own.”
 
Nurse Silver applies pressure with her thumb near the wound, causing Lord Gray to shriek in pain.
 
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Lord Gray gasps for breath as the pain subsides
 
“The bullet is so close to the surface of your skin.” Nurse Silver sighs, “If only I had the right tools.”
 
John Boddy comes out of the Dining Room holding a wooden shield from the Dining Room’s armory display.
 
“We have to get my Revolver. I heard glass breaking and gunshots ringing.” John Boddy sets the shield down as he sees Lord Gray’s wound, “Oh my God!”
 
Nurse Silver turns to Professor Plum, “Get me something to tie around his shoulder.”
 
Professor Plum nods and turns to the Cloakroom – a small closet situated between the Study and the Library. He opens the Cloakroom door and snatches a black wool scarf from a wooden peg. He brings the scarf back and Nurse Silver carefully ties it around Lord Gray’s shoulder.
 
“We’ll just have to get the bullet out later.” Nurse Silver says, holding his arm reassuringly
 
“I could be dying of infection.” Lord Gray’s brow is dripping with sweat, “You need to get it out.”
 
“Is there anything I can do?” Yvette asks wrings her hands nervously
 
“Get Dr. Black.” Nurse Silver says
 
“Alone? You want me to go alone?” Yvette asks, “Can someone go with me?”
 
“Oh, I’ll just go.” Professor Plum says, “Yvette, stay here.”
 
Yvette nods as Nurse Silver continues to apply pressure to the wound. John picks up the shield again. He protectively shields them from the front doors.
 
Nurse Silver notices him, “Are they locked?”
 
“I don’t know?” John says
 
“Go and lock them.” Nurse Silver says
 
John and Yvette both cower behind the shield and creep along the dark, daunting Hall towards the front doors. Yvette clings onto John’s shoulder.
 
“What if zee shooter is waiting at zee door?” Yvette whispers
 
John hands the shield to Yvette and rushes to the door. He forcefully bolts it and then dashes back to where Yvette cowers behind the shield.
 
“I think we’re okay,” John says
 
Yvette is panting and close to tears, “I have never been more scared.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Attic, Mr. Reginald Ash stands beside Sir Benedict Black the Fourth’s bedside. The gunshots were not heard from up here.
 
“I suppose it’s time for my medicine.” Sir Benedict sighs, “That’s why you are here, isn’t it?”
 
“Dr. Black and Mrs. White are busy tending to the guests.” Mr. Ash says taking out a small Syringe from his pocket. He takes out a bottle of clear liquid and fills the Syringe.
 
Sir Benedict makes a sour face, “I hate the smell of that stuff.”
 
“Try to relax.” Mr. Ash takes the old man’s arm and stabs the Syringe into a large vein.
 
Sir Benedict winces as the fluid is forcefully injected into him. Mr. Ash withdraws the Syringe and begins to sterilize and clean the needle.
 
“I talked to Mrs. White earlier before the guests were up and about.” Sir Benedict says, his voice becomes slow and sleepy, “She…”
 
The old man falls asleep from the medicine before he can finish his sentence. His hand falls to his side limply. Mr. Ash solemnly exits the room, locking the door behind him.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
“Hugh!” Mrs. Patricia Peacock calls in the upstairs hallway. Mrs. Jane Meadow-Brook comes from the staircase to the third floor.
 
“Is everything alright?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook asks, “I heard some commotion.”
 
“Didn’t you hear the gunshots?” Mrs. Peacock asks
 
“Gunshots? What gunshots?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook shrugs
 
 Both women look over the banister to see Nurse Silver, Yvette, Lord Gray, and John Boddy in the Hall below.
 
“Have any of you seen Hugh?” Mrs. Peacock calls out
 
“Are you two alright?” Nurse Silver asks
 
“We’re fine.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook answers, “Mrs. Peacock said something gunshots. Did you hear anything? Is that blood? Lord Gray, are you hurt?”
 
“I was shot!” Lord Gray angrily winces, “Nurse Silver won’t take out the bullet.”
 
“We’ve been over this.” Nurse Silver sighs, “If I remove it you could bleed out. I don’t have any of the tools or drugs to stop you from dying if that happens.”
 
“You were shot?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook throws up her arms in disbelief, “What on earth is going on? Where’s Emily? Is she okay?”
 
Mrs. Meadow-Brook and Mrs. Peacock make their way down the grand staircase.
 
“So what happens now, Nurse?” Lord Gray asks, “Where do we go from here?”
 
“We take you to a hospital as soon as it’s safe to leave.” Nurse Silver says
 
“Where’s Emily?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook begs frantically
 
“Does anyone know where Dr. Black is?” Mrs. Peacock asks
 
Presently, Professor Plum comes from the Pantry followed by Dr. Black, Mr. Meadow-Brook, and Mrs. White.
 
“We’re locking this place up.” Dr. Black declares
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Courtyard, Sgt. Richard Gray nervously drives Dr. Black’s convertible towards the Front Gates. Miss Peach sits in the passenger seat, looking behind them with a small sense of relief. The open air around them is still. The car is moving quickly along the gravel, passing the Carriage House and Stables.
 
Miss Peach hears faint maniacal laughing in the woods as they pull through the rusty gates. She shakes it off as her mind playing games with her.
 
“It will be a ten-minute drive to reach the next main road. After that, it won’t be long before we are in town.” Sgt. Gray says
 
Miss Peach continues to stare into the foggy forest around them. The trunks of the trees are so bold in the fog. She suddenly hears the laughter from the other side of the road. She quickly turns to look at the other half of the foggy forest just in time to see a long, lanky shadow duck behind a tree.
 
“I think I saw something.” Miss Peach says fearfully
 
“I’ll try to drive a little faster, but this road is narrow.” Sgt. Gray sighs, “I hope everyone is okay. I’ve no idea what we are going to be coming back to.”
 
“I don’t want to come back at all.” Miss Peach says, watching the trees flicker past in the blurry rain, “I… I want to go back home. I miss Aunt Honey. I just want to see the rolling green hills and the farm.”
 
“It sounds beautiful. I wish I grew up near a farm or prairie…” Sgt. Gray stops talking as a dark shadow dash across the road ahead of them. The laughter becomes a cackle in the fog.
 
“Can you drive any faster?” Miss Peach tenses in her seat
 
Sgt. Gray tries to speed up on the gravel, “Emily we need to go back.”
 
“There’s nowhere to turn around.” Miss Peach says, “Drive faster.”
 
“He’s in front of us in the woods.” Sgt. Gray says, “He’s running faster than the car.”
 
The road becomes narrow with sharp bends. Sgt. Gray is forced to slow down even more. By this point, the road is primarily composed of gravel and mud. On one side of the road is the steep decline of a forest ravine, to the other side of the road is a sprawling forest. The shadowy figure can be seen lurking through the sprawling forest.
 
“Richard, I saw someone!” Miss Peach says, “Please, just go a little faster.”
 
“I can’t drive any faster. The rain is making the road even worse. Driving a car without a roof isn’t helping either.” Sgt. Gray glances down at the Hammer on the seat between him and Miss Peach, “We might need to use that if he gets too close to the car.”
 
“We are barely driving above walking speed.” Miss Peach looks nervously out the window, “Do you realize how slow we are going?”
 
“Emily, I’m sorry. I can’t go any faster.” Sgt. Gray grips the wheel tensely, “These turns in the road are very sudden. The fog isn’t helping.”
 
The car slides off the gravel for a moment, startling both Sgt. Gray and Miss Peach. Sgt. Gray recovers.
 
“Are we going to be okay?” asks Miss Peach
 
“Yes.” Sgt. Gray tries to reassure her
 
Miss Peach’s eyes dart back and forth, “I’m just so frightened… There! Richard, I saw him again!”
 
“Jesus Christ, I saw him too.” Sgt. Gray increases the speed a bit, “Emily, take the Hammer.”
 
“Richard he’s on the road behind us running!” Miss Peach turns around in her seat, “He has a gun!”
 
A gunshot rings out as the car takes a sudden jolt of impact, causing Sgt. Gray to instinctively increase the speed.
 
“Take the Hammer!” Sgt. Gray is frantic
 
Miss Peach sits back in her seat as the Rolls Royce swerves sharply around the corner, skidding and sending gravel flying in the air. She grabs the Hammer and holds it tightly. Sgt. Gray manages to guide the car down the narrow path.
 
Another gunshot rings through the rain, shattering the front window between Miss Peach and Sgt. Gray. Miss Peach screams and Sgt. Gray speeds quickly around the next curve. The road becomes asphalt. Sgt. Gray accelerates far beyond human running speed.
 
“Thank God!” Miss Peach squeals, catching her breath.
 
“Maybe we lost him around the curve.” Sgt. Gray speeds up and looks through the rear mirror. He continues to apply pressure to the gas pedal, increasing their speed on the smooth road.
 
“I thought we were going to die.” Miss Peach covers her face with her hands
 
“We’re going to be okay.” Sgt. Gray says, “We’ll go to the police station and ask for…”
 
“Richard, look out!” Miss Peach screams
 
Sgt. Gray looks back at the road in time to see the tree down across both sides of the road. Miss Peach protects her face with her arms as the Breezer crumbles upon impact with the tree. The windshield shatters completely.
 
Ben Black the Fifth comes running down the road towards the direction of the crash. He stops running looks down at the Pistol. Miss Peach and Sgt. Gray both stumble out of the wreck. Miss Peach collapses onto the pavement as Sgt. Gray limps towards her. Ben Black’s pale skin fades into the fog as he grins and walks over to the wreck.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Library, a few minutes later, Dr. Black, Mrs. White, Fraulein Bloom, Fivel, Mr. Green, Yvette, John Boddy, Mr. and Mrs. Meadow-Brook, Mrs. Peacock, Lord Gray, Nurse Silver, and Professor Plum huddle around the long reading table in the center of the room.
 
Dr. Black is standing tall and assertive, whilst gripping tightly onto a Fireplace Poker.
 
Mrs. White and Fraulein Bloom more meekly stand to the side. Fraulein Bloom is fidgeting nervously, while Mrs. White taps her foot against the wood floor.
 
Fivel holds back his tears as best as he can, but his head is constantly spinning in fear.
 
Mr. Green stands beside Dr. Black, ready to take the first step in securing the mansion.
 
John and Yvette both hold onto the shield, mostly due to the fact they never put it down, but also for the protection, since the Library is where blood was spilled.
 
Lord Gray sits in the very chair he was shot in moments earlier. Nurse Silver stands beside him with a sympathetic, worried look on her face.
 
Mrs. Peacock and Mrs. Meadow-Brook pulls the curtains closed and join Mr. Meadow-Brook in moving the furniture tightly against the windows.
 
“We’re still missing Mr. Ash, Madame Rose, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Clay, Colonel Mustard, Sgt. Gray, Miss Peach, and Miss Dove.” Mrs. White counts, “Lord Gray was the only one hurt as far we know. Colonel Mustard wasn’t at breakfast.”
 
“The Colonel is smart.” Dr. Black says, “He’ll stay safe.”
 
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his gun.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says, “I’m sure he keeps a service pistol. Every military man does. At least the ones I read about in stories do.”
 
“Jane,” Mr. Meadow-Brook hushes his wife, “We just need to know if the Colonel keeps a service pistol. Keep it simple.”
 
“I don’t think so.” Mrs. White steps forward, “I’ve cleaned his room for years. Unless he is really good at hiding it.”
 
“It’s my gun,” Mr. Green says, “Someone stole it. It was missing from my suitcase. My money is on Brenda Dove.”
 
“Brenda has no reason to shoot up the mansion.” Dr. Black says defensively
 
Fivel instantly becomes cross with Mr. Green for accusing such a thing.
 
“She openly admitted to snooping through my luggage.” Mr. Green says, “She likely hid the gun and is now shooting at the mansion for whatever reason – to create confusion, to create more tension – I don’t know what the reason is. But I’m certain it’s her.”
 
“That’s my mother you are talking about!” Fivel angrily shouts at Mr. Green
 
“I’m sorry,” Mr. Green puts his hands up, “The truth is, I knew your mother before you were born. She was a different person back then.”
 
“Wait a minute.” Dr. Black says, “You know Brenda?”
 
“Our paths may have crossed once or twice.” Mr. Green says
 
“This is unbelievable!” Dr. Black looks down at the table
 
“All I’m saying,” Mr. Green loosens his tie, “She has a terrible temper, she loves to be in control, and she loses her mind when something happens that she didn’t know about. With all these people here and the obvious tension, I’m honestly not surprised that someone is popping off bullets left and right.”
 
“Dr. Black, what are we supposed to do?” Mrs. White asks, “Do we call the police?”
 
“Sgt. Gray is already here.” Dr. Black says
 
“Where?” Mrs. White looks around the room sarcastically, “I don’t see him in the Library with us.”
 
“My son wouldn’t even know what to do in this type of situation.” Lord Gray says
 
“Maybe Colonel Mustard will.” Mrs. Peacock chimes in
 
“I doubt it.” John Boddy snorts from behind the shield
 
“Regardless, Colonel Mustard isn’t here.” Mrs. White says, “We are the ones who need to come up with solutions.”
 
“I think we are in over our heads.” Mr. Meadow-Brook says, “We just wait and hope for the best.”
 
“That’s your input, Miles?” Dr. Black roughly turns to Mr. Meadow-Brook, “Don’t think I’ve just forgotten about what you tried to do in the Study.”
 
“Not now!” Mr. Meadow-Brook hushes Dr. Black
 
“Emily is probably so scared,” Mrs. Meadow-Brook closes her eyes
 
“It was just a few gunshots.” Mrs. Peacock says, “You people are acting like cannons, bombs, and vats of flaming tar were launched at the west wing.”
 
“A few gunshots?” Lord Gray hits the table, sending a pulse of pain through his body, “The windows were shot at with no regard to the people inside. This could have been a lot worse that it was.”
 
“Hugh, did you talk to Vivienne?” Mrs. Peacock asks
 
“You don’t think she’s doing this?” Dr. Black asks
 
“I don’t know.” Mrs. Peacock bites her lip, “Did she seem angry when she was done talking with you?”
 
“She wasn’t happy,” Dr. Black says, “I can safely say that much.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the third floor Parlor, Miss Scarlet and Miss Dove sit in the window seat looking over the roof of Blackwell Grange and the tops of the trees around the mansion. The Parlor is decorated in an Oriental theme with fitting music enhancing the ambiance. The gunshots clearly weren’t heard from up here.
 
“She’s always made everything about her.” Miss Scarlet vents to Miss Dove, “She took my father and made sure he had barely any time to spend with me. She always disliked me and never knew how to be a mother. Her third husband would get drunk and try to touch me… she wouldn’t listen or believe me. She says I’m just trying to be the center of attention. Now she goes and she takes the one man that I thought I could truly trust and actually have a future with…”
 
Miss Scarlet breaks down and cries
 
“Vivienne, I’m so sorry.” Miss Dove rubs her back gently, “Your stepmother sounds like a very wicked, self-serving person. I’m so sorry your life has been full of so much chaos.”
 
“I just don’t know where to turn from here.” Miss Scarlet says, “I can’t go back to Arlington Grange and be with my stepmother. My dreams are just that – dreams. I’ve yet to taste the fruits of my labor.”
 
“If it makes you feel any better,” Miss Dove takes a breath, “I think I’m beginning to hate your stepmother. She’s clearing trying to win Hugh’s affection. Ever since that pitiful attempt in the Ballroom when she first arrived she’s been building up her strength to go after him again.”
 
Miss Scarlet immediately considers telling Miss Dove the truth – that Mrs. Peacock seduced Dr. Black. She knows that Miss Dove and Dr. Black’s union-to-be would be instantly broken.
 
“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you,” Miss Scarlet takes a deep breath, wiping her tears, “But she does want Dr. Black and if you don’t make sure he stays strong, she’ll get him. He’s only a man. He’ll fall for it if she wears a low enough dress.”
 
Miss Dove is silent.
 
“I hardly know the man.” Miss Scarlet lowers her head, “But his reputation speaks for itself.”
 
“And what is his reputation?” Miss Dove looks down at Miss Scarlet with a snide grin, “I’d love to hear the worldly take on my fiancé.”
 
“Careful, love,” Miss Scarlet takes Miss Dove firmly by the chin, “You are marrying a lusty playboy and haven’t even opened your creaky, prude legs to let him have a taste of the treasure. I’ll be goddamned if I don’t crawl into his bed and steal him from both you and my stepmother.”
 
“Excuse me?” Miss Dove pulls her face out of Miss Scarlet’s tight grip, “Young lady, I’ve been nothing but kind and open…”
 
“Yes,” Miss Scarlet says, “But then you looked at me like you were better than me.”
 
Miss Dove doesn’t respond.
 
“Remember something, love,” Miss Scarlet says, “You’re nothing without Dr. Black.”
 
“Oh, my dear,” Miss Dove stands up, “Vivienne, this changes everything.”
 
Miss Dove’s eyes narrow. She walks over to the door and steps into the bedroom hallway.
 
“Whatever you have planned, I’m not interested.” Miss Scarlet yawns, “Run along. We don’t want your fiancée changing the plans to accommodate his new daughter.”
 
“I’m a capable woman.” Miss Dove laughs, itching her head, “You are a stupid girl, Vivienne. I never wanted Hugh. If I did I would have made more of an effort to make him happy. No, Hugh is just my key into Blackwell Grange. My son and I are not here for love, marriage, and family. I’m sorry, but you and your stepmother are not going to flip Dr. Black into your graces.”
 
Miss Scarlet hears the shift in Miss Dove’s tones.
 
“My family and my life…” Miss Dove coldly stares at Miss Scarlet, “Vivienne, I don’t want you to worry about the things you don’t understand. Just worry about learning when to shut up. Then there will be no fear of someone grabbing you in the dark and slitting your dainty little throat.”
 
Miss Scarlet does not break eye contact with Miss Dove
 
“Super.” Miss Dove claps her hands together, “Then you’ll stay out of my way, smoke your cigarettes, and keep that pretty red mouth quiet. Enjoy Blackwell Grange, darling.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In her room, Madame Rose lays out seven Tarot Cards in a curving formation.
 
“Sadness,” Madame Rose turns over the first card, “It is always hard to leave behind someone who has shared so many beautiful memories.”
 
She turns over the second card.
 
“New love will emerge.” Madame Rose reads the mysterious symbols on the cards, “From the East, a message of new love with come and a promise of delightful celebration will follow.”
 
She turns over the third card with a puzzled look on her face, “Balance the seas. The trade is rough and the waters are rougher. Standing still and doing nothing is better than moving too quickly and losing everything.”
 
She flips over the fourth card and holds it for a few moments.
 
“The masterpiece will be viewed for all to see.” Madame Rose closes her eyes sadly, “Not in a statue, but in flesh. Madness and panic are made through criticizing and judging.”
 
Madame Rose turns the fifth and sixth cards over together, “Don’t let our own lies hinder the trust made with others. Cut the ropes with blades of fear, blades of doubt, blades of worry, and blades of grief.”
 
Madame Rose turns over the final card, “Just leave this place behind.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Miss Peach groggily wakes up with her face against a rough wooden surface. She looks around to find that she’s on the floor of a run-down shack. Mr. Ben Black the Fifth sits on the wood stool wearing Sgt. Gray’s police uniform.
 
Miss Peach’s mind races with questions. Where is Sgt. Gray? Why are his clothes on this man? Is this the man who was shooting at them? Where are they?
 
Ben Black steps forward and reaches his hand out to Miss Peach, offering to help her up.
 
Miss Peach remains on the floor, looking up at him in horror. The fact that this madman is wearing Sgt. Gray’s uniform keeps her mind spinning with the worst possible scenarios.
 
“What do you want from me?” Miss Peach’s voice comes out shaky, yet firm.
 
“I’m an officer.” Mr. Black points to the badge on his chest, “Can I help you, ma’am? You look terribly frightened.”
 
“Where is he?” Miss Peach’s eyes well up with tears
 
“Where is who?” Mr. Black looks around the empty shack, “There’s no one here but us.”
 
“Where’s Sgt. Gray?” Miss Peach cries
 
“I am Sgt. Gray.” Mr. Black smiles, picking up the Pistol and pointing it in Miss Peach’s direction, “I saved you from that wreck.”
 
“No you aren’t! You aren’t him! Where is he? Where’s Richard?” Miss Peach cries loudly with her knees to her chest, “What did you do to him?”
 
The Pistol is forced into her face. Mr. Black’s body language suddenly changes. He rips off the uniform, sending buttons flying.
 
Mr. Black twitches, “I know I’m not Sgt. Gray. It’s still fun to pretend, though. Richard’s still alive… I think. He fell and slide off the side of the road. I tried to shoot him, but I missed.” Mr. Black turns the Pistol to a small mirror on the wall and shoots it.
 
Miss Peach screams.
 
“It’s alright. You can scream if you want.” Mr. Black says, “No one can hear us out here. When I lived in the Crypt I used to scream all night long. Every night I would scream and scream at the lid of that wooden coffin until I couldn’t breathe anymore.”
 
Miss Peach holds her knees tightly to her chest as Mr. Black circles around her with the Pistol.
 
“Being trapped in a flat wooden box almost every day for over forty years means that I got to spend a lot of time thinking.” Mr. Black says, “I used to think if other people could survive being trapped in a wooden box, away from sunlight and warmth. I used to pass out from the fear of not knowing if I was ever going to be let out, or if I would be left to starve to death. I went eight days without food once.”
 
Miss Peach shuts her eyes in fear.
 
“I also used to think about the lightning that would buzz through my head.” Mr. Black laughs again, “Does it hurt? Did it hurt me the first time? I don’t remember. It probably hurts a lot.”
 
Miss Peach cries in terror as the madman continues to circle around her like a hungry vulture.
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED